- Title: SPAIN/FILE: Romanians offered benefits for return home
- Date: 14th May 2009
- Summary: (SOUNDBITE) (Spanish) ROMANIAN IMMIGRANT IN SPAIN, MARINELA ENACHE SAYING: "Difficult. Yes. Like all the other families we are unemployed, without work. The majority of the men work in construction, in refurbishments and they have very little work."
- Embargoed: 29th May 2009 13:00
- Topics: International Relations,Employment
- Reuters ID: LVAAP5YE6AAO7W4MR77PPUW4UMOG
- Story Text: The Spanish government offers unemployed Romanian immigrants incentives to return home, but some migrants say they would rather see out the difficult times in Spain.
The Spanish government is encouraging out of work Romanian immigrants to return home, saying it will pay their unemployment benefits.
On a visit to Bucharest earlier this month, the Spanish Minister of Work and Immigration Celestino Corbacho signed agreements with his Romanian counterpart which stated Spain would offer incentive packages for unemployed Romanians willing to return to their home country.
The details of the package have not been finalised but may include payment for the return trip as well as the ability to claim unemployment benefits for a limited period of time.
The President of the Association for the Federation of Romanians in Spain (FEDROM) Mihuel Fonda, welcomed the move but said the plan may too limited.
"We think it should take into account the whole Romanian and Bulgarian community. We think we may be talking about a community of more than one million people between Romanians and Bulgarians. And they should have the opportunity to be reincorporated into their country if they want, during a period of time they of their choosing and incorporating the conditions of rights and liberties which are part of the Europe Union," he said.
Currently there are more than 700,000 Romanians living in Spain and, according to officials, Romanian unemployment figures rose in the last three months from 40000 to 71000.
Romanians rarely opt for the existing voluntary return plan which allows them to claim benefits from home, because to claim the money the person must commit to not return to Spain for at least five years.
Marinela Enache is a Romanian immigrant who lives in Madrid. She is out of work along with five other members of her family, all of whom have been forced to share a small apartment to try and makemeet.
Enache says that despite her dole running out and the current difficult situation, neither her nor her family are interested in the plan offered by the government. She said they prefered to ride out the crisis in Spain rather than return to Romania.
"Difficult. Yes. Like all the other families we are unemployed, without work. The majority of the men work in construction, in refurbishments and they have very little work," she said.
"Things are so bad over there that with the little money you get, you won't be able to do much with it. So we rather stick it out here. Lets hope that in just a few years things are all right again. But we will try and sort things out here, we are very used to it here," Enache added.
Spain's economy shed 39,478 workers last month, with the total number of dole seekers still the highest of any European Union country at 3.64 million. This is more than double the European average of 17.4 percent.
Most job losses come from workers who are not represented by the unions, including those on temporary contracts, immigrants, women and the young.
Enache's father, Gheorghe Novac, arrived in Spain six and a half years ago to take advantage of the construction boom. He also says he is not interested in going home, even though he can no longer find work.
"When we got to Spain six years ago there was massive amounts of work in construction. Then little by little it started to decrease until we got to the current position of unemployment which is critical. And today we are not sure what to do," he said.
The collapse in the construction boom in 2007 in Spain has left families with debts of up to 130 percent of their available rent compared to 60 percent when the country adopted the euro.
The country is facing a summer which could see social tensions rise as benefits for the unemployed come to an end, and some blame immigrants for the lack of work.
Novac said that at least for the moment, he has never felt any tension between his co-workers.
"I don't feel any tension between Spanish, Bulgarian or workers from other nationalities. We behave well towards each other. We know there is crisis in other countries and we try and bear it together," he said.
But ultimately for Novac, it is the instability in Romania which he says will stop him from returning home, no matter how good the proposed incentive package is.
"I'm not interested in the proposal which comes on behalf of the Romanian government. I don't trust the Romanian government. I don't believe anything they say because they haven't given us anything to trust. In the last 20 years of democracy there have no big changes. Nothing has changed for the people and everything is the same," he said.
Spain is facing its deepest recession since its 1936-1939 Civil War and it is expected to last longer than that of any other European Union member.
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